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Football Springs Into NAIA Poll

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April 20, 2011
Gary Pine

AZUSA, Calif. -- Coming off its seventh postseason appearance in the past 13 years, Azusa Pacific is ranked No. 15 in the NAIA Coaches Top 25 Spring Poll of 2011.

The Cougars, who were 6-4 last year and took on eventual national champion Carroll College in the opening round of the NAIA playoffs, received 144 points to squarely and securely place them at No. 15. They return 18 starters from last year’s squad, 9 on each side of the line, including senior QB John van den Raadt, who last fall became the first player in program history to rush for over 900 yards and pass for over 1,500 yards in a single season.

On defense, Azusa Pacific returns senior DE Jake Jones, who averaged nearly 6 tackles a game and ranked among the NAIA’s best with 10.5 quarterback sacks on the season.

“We have some tremendous leadership in John and Jake,” said sixth-year Azusa Pacific Head Coach Victor Santa Cruz. “We’re developing some good young talent in the program and both seniors are offering guidance and direction while we’re refining our fundamentals.”

This marks the first time in the 3 years the NAIA has been conducting such a poll that Azusa Pacific has been ranked in the Coaches Spring Poll.

Azusa Pacific opens the 2011 season at home on Sept. 3 against the University of San Diego in a 6 p.m. kickoff at Citrus Stadium.

Click here to view the entire 2011 NAIA Coaches Top 25 Spring Poll.